Rangers hopeful Miller will stay

Rangers manager Walter Smith has said that 20-goal striker Kenny Miller will not be off-loaded in the January transfer window. Miller was on target in Saturday's 1-1 draw at Inverness Caledonian Thistle, although his missed second half penalty prevented his side from moving five points clear at the top.

The striker is out of contract at the end of the season and speculation is rife that he may be sold in January to avoid the club losing him for nothing in June. However, Smith said he is hopeful of contract talks resuming and said he has had no bids for the Scotland international.

"I don't know where he is going to go. Nobody does," said Smith. "You keep getting this speculation but from our point of view we have not had any enquiries or offers from anyone so hopefully he can stay and hopefully he can continue to score goals."

Smith absolved Miller of any blame for the penalty miss which cost them the chance to go five clear of rivals Celtic, whose game against Kilmarnock was postponed. "The way he is finishing now you would have put your mortgage on him finishing the penalty but it happens," Smith said.

We have not had any enquiries or offers from anyone so hopefully he can stay and hopefully he can continue to score goals.
Walter Smith on Kenny Miller

"People who take penalties put themselves up for it, so you have to be prepared that they are going to miss them once or twice. Obviously every team needs a scorer who is in form and Kenny is that one for us. When we lost Kris Boyd everybody was asking where the goals were going to come from and Kenny has answered that for us. He's done that and I think he has had a terrific season in that respect."

On Saturday, Johnny Hayes's sensational first-half strike fired Inverness into a deserved lead. However the Ibrox side showed more urgency in the second-half and Miller's 20th goal of the season levelled matters in the 57th minute.

The leaders have come from behind to win on six occasions this season and history looked to be repeating itself when substitute James Beattie won Rangers a penalty in the 81st minute but the trailing leg of goalkeeper Ryan Esson kept out Miller's spot-kick.

The result ends Smith's side's 100 percent away record this season and the Gers manager admitted his side need to start games better if they are to make it three league titles in a row. "From our own point of view we know now that we have to put more into the opening parts of matches," Smith fumed.

"In the first-half we didn't deserve to take any points at all the way we played. We started very slowly and didn't get into the pace of the game at all and didn't deserve any better than we got in the first half. If we had played as we did in the second-half I don't think anyone would have said anything other than we would have gone on to win the game.

"We created a number of opportunities and we lifted the pace of the game, whereas in the first-half we didn't. Everything we did in the second-half was far better than we did in the first-half. But I have said to everyone in the dressing room if you have a first-half performance like that then you can expect to get results like this. In the end we only have ourselves to blame for a 45 minutes that was as poor as we have had in a while."